12 Ideas From Stunning Fall Gardens

Fall gardens are all about drama. The air turns crisp, and deciduous trees change from green to brilliant gold, rich amber and fiery red. Leaves rustle, ornamental grasses sway and catch the late-afternoon light. Rose hips and toyon berries look like clusters of jewels.

Whether you’d like to add a few containers to brighten your entryway, tuck in a patch of late-blooming flowers or choose a statement tree for an annual fall show, here are a dozen ideas to give you some inspiration for making your garden shine this season.

1. Showcase Foliage

Adding at least one tree chosen for its fall foliage display can have a big impact in the garden. Here, the brilliant gold leaves of Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis, USDA zones 6 to 9; find your zone) glow in this neat and tidy front yard in Montgomery, Alabama.

Chinese pistache trees reach about 25 feet tall at maturity, making them a perfect choice for a courtyard or small garden. The leaves change from gold to crimson, offering a spectacular display even in warm winter climates. If pollinated by a nearby male tree, a female tree can become covered in decorative clusters of berries, which cling to the branches even after the leaves have fallen. The berries are a bit messy, but they’re a valuable food source for wild birds.

2. Add Topiary

Formal, clipped topiary is a hardworking element in the fall garden that provides contrast, form and structure. The deep green leaves of boxwood (Buxus spp.), privet (Ligustrum spp.) or yew can provide a welcome foil for the season’s flashier foliage. The sculptural forms of topiary also contrast well with ornamental grasses and the informal branch structures of other shrubs. As you transition to a winter garden, the topiary can be wrapped with white lights for the holidays.

3. Create a Spot to Rest

A well-placed bench, pair of chairs or outdoor lounge can encourage you to slow down and appreciate the passing of the season. If you’re adding a new seating nook to your garden, look for places where you would naturally be inclined to relax, such as an area that catches the afternoon sun or a place against a wall to admire the garden from.

Enroot Landscape Planning and Design
In this corner by Enroot Landscape Planning and Design, a bench placed under a shimmering yellow katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum, zones 4 to 8) looks like the perfect spot to enjoy a steaming mug of apple cider. Fallen leaves, if left on planting beds, provide a natural mulch.

Mosaic Gardens
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Lauren Dunec Hoang

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